Now that school is out, most families can't help but think of summer in terms of fun -- especially after dreaming all winter about lazy days in the backyard and nights free of homework and projects. That's one reason why the anecdotal and statistical information on what happens to kids academically over the long break can seem so depressing.
Parenting.com reports that virtually all kids will lose some hard-won math knowledge, and many will experience setbacks in reading. As a result, teachers will begin the next school year teaching the same material in the fall for a month or more.
So how can summer-loving families reconcile these two seemingly separate camps -- summer as fun and summer as academics? Parenting.com's Rachel Fishman Feddersen shares some great ideas for combating summer brain drain.
Take the Science-Fair Volcano to the Next Level. You have to sacrifice a two-liter bottle of diet soda for this one (it's less sticky than regular soda, so easier to clean up), but it'll be worth it. Open the soda on the driveway or in the yard. Now, as quickly as possible (it helps to use a funnel; you can make one out of paper), drop an entire roll of Mentos candies into the bottle and run: The soda will explode from the bottle, making a huge geyser.
Rock 'N' Roll Ice Cream. Put salt and ice in a gallon-size plastic bag. Now put half-and-half, sugar and vanilla in a sandwich-size one. Seal it, and place the small bag in the larger one. Seal that, and start dancing to "churn" the mixture into ice cream!
Calling All Parents! How Do You Prevent Kids' Summer Brain Drain? Send 'GMA' Your Creative Ideas, Tricks to Sneak In Learning
Evaporation Detectives. Circle puddles on the cement with chalk after a storm, then check them throughout the day. Your child will see the puddles shrink before his eyes -- a vivid image of how the water cycle works.
Bowling For Fractions. Draw a line with chalk on the sidewalk. Measure out 1/4, 1/2, 1/6, and so forth -- whatever fractions your child might reasonably know. Now place boxes or plastic bottles (whatever you can come up with that is easily knocked over) on the marks. The players name the fraction they are going to hit and then roll their ball for the pin they think sits on that fraction. Players get points for the correct fraction -- and the hit.
A-Z Neighborhood Walk. Turn a simple stroll into a stimulating learning experience. Bring along a measuring tape to see who can find the tree with the biggest circumference, the sunflower with the largest face, a huge rock. Along the way, look up for birds' nests. What kind of materials did the birds use? Have kids keep a mental list of objects seen on the walk that begin with each letter of the alphabet. When you return back home, use chalk to write out the words together on the driveway.